Visual Studio won't ditch Crystal Reports: Microsoft
- By John K. Waters
Microsoft Corp. joined business intelligence (BI) software maker Business
Objects last week to reassure developers that popular reporting software from
the recently acquired Crystal Decisions will continue to ship in both the
current version of Visual Studio .NET and the next release, code-named
''Whidbey.'' Users of Crystal Reports have expressed concerns about the
relationship since the tool's acquisition by Business Objects last year.
''Crystal Reports has been a part of our product offering for more than 10
years,'' said David Lazar, Microsoft's director of product management for
developer tools. ''We are committed to Crystal Reports for the current release of
Visual Studio, as well as the next release.''
San Jose, Calif.-based Business Objects revealed its intention to acquire
Crystal Reports maker Crystal Decisions last summer in an effort to maintain a
top spot among a dwindling pack of BI suppliers. Together, the two companies
claim more than 24,000 customers. Business Objects completed the acquisition of
Crystal Decisions in December. Prior to the acquisition, the Crystal Decisions
toolset was embedded in products from companies like IBM, SAP and Microsoft
under OEM agreements.
Microsoft currently ships Visual Studio .NET with an edition of Crystal
Reports designed to enable developers to create interactive reports without
leaving the IDE. The resulting reports can be shared over the Internet, making
it possible for enterprise customers and business partners to host reports
inside their own applications.
Last week, Business Objects began shipping Crystal Version 10, a new release
of the Crystal Decisions reporting software. The new version offers links to
Microsoft Office applications and a new Java report engine.
At the time of the announcement, Business Objects said that its goal is to
offer a combined product suite made up of its ad hoc query, analysis and
performance-management software and Crystal Decisions' enterprise reporting
applications. But integrating the two product lines presented a challenge:
keeping existing customers happy and paying maintenance fees while trying to
move forward with new designs and architecture.
The company said last week that it plans to integrate the two product lines
in stages over the next two years. The first stage, scheduled for completion in
the second quarter of this year, involves a ''product integration pack'' that
incorporates portal integration, common Web services APIs, and an option to use
Businesses Objects meta data as a source for Crystal Reports.
The second stage involves ''significant platform-level integration,''
supporting core products from both companies running on a common infrastructure
with common administration. The third stage delivers complete integration of the
two product lines via a 'superset of all current product functionality on an
enhanced, integrated platform.' Business Objects expects to complete the process
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached